Standard Macedonian was implemented as the official language of the Socialist Republic of Macedonia in 1945 and has since developed a thriving literary tradition. Most of the codification was formalized during the same period.
Macedonian dialects form a continuum with Bulgarian dialects; together in turn they form a broader continuum with Serbo-Croatian through the transitional Torlakian dialects. The name of the Macedonian language is a matter of political controversy in Greece as is its distinctiveness in Bulgaria.
Classification and related languages
The Macedonian language belongs to the eastern sub-branch of the South Slavic branch of the Slavic languages of the Indo-European family of languages, and hence is not descended from Ancient Macedonian. Its closest relative is Bulgarian, with which it has a high degree of mutual intelligibility.
Prior to their codification in 1945, Macedonian dialects were for the most part classified as Bulgarian and some linguists consider them still as such, but this view is politically controversial.
The next-closest language is Serbo-Croatian (often known by the names of its standard languages, Serbian, Montenegrin, Bosnian, and Croatian).
All South Slavic languages, including Macedonian, form a dialect continuum. The Torlakian dialect group is intermediate between Bulgarian, Macedonian and Serbo-Croatian.
Together with its immediate Slavic neighbours, Macedonian also forms a constituent language of the Balkan Sprachbund, a group of languages which share typological, grammatical and lexical features based on geographical convergence, rather than genetic proximity.
Its other principal members are Romanian, Greek and Albanian, all of which belong to different genetic branches of the Indo-European family of languages (Romanian is a Romance language, while Greek and Albanian each comprise their own separate branches).
Macedonian and Bulgarian are sharply divergent from the remaining South Slavic languages, Serbo-Croatian and Slovene, and indeed all other Slavic languages, in that they don't use noun cases (except for the vocative, and apart from some traces of once productive inflections still found scattered throughout the languages).
They are also the only Slavic languages with any definite articles (there are three: unspecified, proximate and distal). This last feature is shared with Romanian, Greek, and Albanian.
The population of the Republic of Macedonia was 2,022,547 in 2002, with 1,644,815 speaking Macedonian as the native language. Outside of the Republic, there are Macedonians living in other parts of the geographical area of Macedonia.
There are ethnic Macedonian minorities in neighbouring Albania, in Bulgaria, in Greece, and in Serbia. According to the official Albanian census of 1989, 4,697 ethnic Macedonians reside in Albania.
A large number of Macedonians live outside the traditional Balkan Macedonian region, with Australia, Canada and the United States having the largest emigrant communities. According to a 1964 estimate, approximately 580,000 Macedonians live outside of the Macedonian Republic,[ nearly 30% of the total population.
The Macedonian spoken by communities outside the republic dates back to before the standardisation of the language and retains many dialectic though, overall, mutually intelligible variations.
The Macedonian language has the status of official language only in the Republic of Macedonia, and is a recognised minority and official language in parts of Albania (Municipality of Pustec), Romania, and Serbia (Municipalities of Jabuka and Plandište).
There are provisions for learning the Macedonian language in Romania as Macedonians are an officially recognised minority group. The language is taught in some universities in Australia, Canada, Croatia, Italy, Russia, Serbia, the United States, and the United Kingdom among other countries.